Duntroon Hotel and CycleStays Ltd

in the Heart of Duntroon


Our hotel opened in 1881 and has just undergone a major renovation. From October 2020 we will be able to offer 7 ensuited bedrooms plus a 2 Bedroom Apartment to Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail travellers, as well as everyone else passing through the Waitaki Valley.

This is the oldest known photo of the Duntroon Hotel, circa 1890.

Photo courtesy of the North Otago Museum Archive.

The great atmosphere in our Bar and Cafe is matched only by the tasty dishes our chef prepares in the restaurant daily. Or alternatively enjoy food from our display cabinet and try one of our barista coffees, made from the finest Kush Coffee beans. From Duntroon there are many sights to enjoy in the beautiful Waitaki Valley. For more information on our beautiful township, visit www.duntroon.co.nz

This advertisement from 19 January 1881 is the first we can find advertising the opening of the Duntroon Hotel.

This is a Timeline we have put together for the Hotel:

Duntroon Hotel - The History

Duntrune Castle in Scotland is built by the MacDougall Clan in the 13th century and is later seized from them by the Campbell Clan.

1792    The Campbells sell Duntrune Castle to the Malcolms, who still occupy it today.  It is the longest continuously occupied castle on mainland Scotland.
1859    Robert Campbell arrives in New Zealand from England and buys significant parcels of land in North Otago on behalf of his family, including the land this hotel occupies. By 1877 he has purchased 300,000 acres and runs 155,000 sheep in North Otago.
1864    James Little builds the Marewhenua Hotel on 100 acres of land adjacent to the Marewhenua township, which occupies the low land on the other side of the main road, beside the Marewhenua River.
1865    The Marewhenua Hotel is held up at gun point by a notorious pair of bush rangers, during which a shot is fired. As folklore evolves, the story becomes that it was the infamous Ned Kelly and his gang, even though they committed all of their crimes in Australia.
1867    James Little sells the Marewhenua Hotel.
1868    The year of the Great Flood. It becomes obvious the Marewhenua township needs to relocate.
1868    Gold is discovered in the Marewhenua River.
1875    Robert Campbell has the Duntroon township surveyed, to create a township on higher ground which can house his workers. He names it after the family’s old castle in Scotland, however it is mis-spelt.
1875    The present owners of the Marewhenua Hotel, Lachlan and Jessie Grant, purchase the 1 acre (3 lots) of land which the Hotel sits on today.
1877    James Little opens the Terminus Hotel in Duntroon, about 250 metres west of Duntroon Hotel. In 1900, when the railway is extended to Kurow, the Terminus Hotel is renamed the Empire Hotel.
1878    Lachlan Grant dies.
1880    Jessie Grant marries Benjamin Welsh.
1881    Benjamin and Jessie Welsh open their new Hotel, which consists of the eastern-most portion of the present building. They name it the Duntroon Hotel. They retain ownership of the 100 acres which the original Hotel occupies. Duntroon is built and the Marewhenua township later ceases to exist.
1884    Jessie Welsh dies.
1898    Benjamin Welsh retains the freehold property, but James Pringle becomes Proprietor of the Duntroon Hotel. He also leases and farms the 100 acres nearby. He is probably one of the most significant proprietors of the Hotel. The Pringle name is very well known in the North Otago area.
1907    Benjamin Welsh tries unsuccessfully to auction the Hotel and the nearby 100 acres as one parcel, with the existing tenant in situ.
1915(approx)    The western wing is added to Duntroon Hotel, incorporating what is now the Public Bar and bringing the total amount of bedrooms upstairs to 12, plus a large parlour.
1920‘s    The Empire Hotel is destroyed by one of several large fires which wipes out most of the commercial buildings in the main street of Duntroon around that time.
1950‘s    The timber exterior of the building is rough-casted. This is probably why the original building has managed to survive since 1881.
1976    Duntroon Hotel is bought by Dominion Breweries and changed from a Hotel to a Tavern, which was more appropriate to the liquor laws at that time. They did some renovations to the building, but did not keep it very long.
1992    The Fire Department inspects the building and prohibits accommodation being charged for upstairs until the building is brought up to standard. Proprietors continue to live upstairs.
Dec 2012     The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail is opened, bringing back the concept of travellers needing accommodation after a hard day’s travel, and before the next one.
Dec 2016    All occupancy upstairs is ordered to cease until the building is brought up to standard. As a result, the Hotel closes its doors.
Aug 2017    The Hotel is bought by the present owners.
Apr 2018 - Jan 2019    A major renovation is carried out downstairs, including fire rating and seismic strengthening. Although the building receives a new concrete floor, it retains some of the sags which it has accumulated over the years. The building still slopes 55mm to the west and 130mm to the east, as well as 200mm to the back, which made the back of the building below ground level. To remedy this, 200mm of earth was removed from around the rear of the building and a new ground level was established.
Feb 2019    Duntroon Hotel reopens its doors as a Bar and Cafe.
Oct 2019- Aug 2020    The 12 bedrooms and one parlour upstairs are remodeled into 7 ensuite rooms and a two-roomed apartment.

A large number of New Zealand hotels have been rebuilt one or more times due to fire. Duntroon Hotel is unusual because it occupies the original building, which was built in 1881 and extended around 1915. The roughcast coating may have helped this, although it has had several close calls. These include a log rolling out of the fireplace during the night in the lounge bar and burning through the wooden floor. Also, in 1993 an ashtray set fire to curtains during the night in the public bar, nearly burning the Hotel down. During renovations upstairs it was discovered that one of the rooms had obviously also suffered a close call, although nothing is known about this one.

The front of the Bar is rimu, which was removed from the ceiling of the lounge bar during its renovation. The matai bar top is from a 100-year old house in Kurow which was recently demolished, and the shelves behind the bar are oregon from the hotel’s previous bar top.